Pre-Tour Kayak Training Program

Begin two months prior to the trip

To the untrained eye Sea Kayaking is a deceptive activity. Most non-kayakers think it is an arm activity. If done correctly, it is a full body workout. Those who try paddling with just their arms will find themselves tiring quickly. The arms are really connecting rods between your torso and the paddle. The arms are used for stabilizing, lifting and lowering the paddle. The main power for paddling comes from torso rotation. In order to get torso rotation you need a platform from which to anchor and drive that rotation which is done with the legs.

Sea kayaking is an endurance activity focusing on the forward stroke. Normally done at an even pace that will go on for hours with very short breaks (5 minutes every hour). The average paddling speed of beginners is about 3 miles per hour. There are approximately 1,000 strokes to the mile. If you go out for your first sea kayaking experience a ten-mile day is not uncommon for day one of a multi-day tour. Therefore, you would have completed 10,000 strokes and paddled for close to four hours during your first day. The weight of your typical touring company paddle will be 38 oz (almost 2.5 pounds). In essence you spend your day exercising while in the seated position. At the end of their first day of paddling the typical complaints voiced by new paddlers are sore shoulders (repetitive lifting of the paddle), sore back (tight hamstrings, tight lower back and using torso rotation), sore abs (maintaining correct paddling posture and using torso rotation), and sore arms (usually from pulling and pushing with arms instead of using torso rotation which is unavoidable when learning). Keep in mind you will be paddling every day of the trip with most touring companies.

The forward paddle stroke begins with lifting the blade and placing it in the water in front of you while rotating your body. Then the arms lock into position and the pull on the paddle comes from rotating your torso (you are pulling the paddle back with your torso not your arms). The right leg presses on the right foot paddle as you take your stroke on the right side. At the end of the stroke you lift the paddle out of the water and you will go through the same process on your left side because you have a double bladed paddle.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a caution about overuse injuries. It is common for first time paddlers to hold the paddle too tightly. By doing so you can aggravate your wrist tendons. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a by-product of holding a paddle to tightly. Keep a relaxed grip on the paddle shaft with your pinky and ring finger the most relaxed. Stay well hydrated when paddling. Bring at least one throw away waterproof camera for those great pictures.

Endurance workout:
Aerobic rowing machines - (Concept II rowers are great)
Easy to moderate pace.

Well conditioned athlete: (5-6 days a week) First two weeks 10 minutes, weeks three and four 15 minutes, remaining weeks 20 minutes.
Weekender: 3 days a week (every other day on the non weight training days) First two weeks 10 minutes, weeks three and four 15 minutes, remaining weeks 20 minutes.

Stretching & Torso workout:
Hamstring stretches while seated (stretch forward toward your feet) (5 minutes)
Torso stretches while seated (side to side and twists) (5 minutes)
Twisting sit ups (30 – 50 reps)
Back arches (10 reps)

Well conditioned athlete: (5-6 days a week) Sit up reps start with 30 and move to 50 at your pace.
Weekender: 3 days a week (every other day on the same day as the strength workout) First two weeks sit ups at 30 reps, weeks three and four 40 reps, remaining weeks 50 reps minutes. During the last two weeks do stretches every day.
When you are on your trip do your stretching daily before and after your paddling.

Weight workout:
Leg Press
Bench Press
Lat Pull Downs
Cable rowing weight machine
Seated shoulder press

Well conditioned athlete: (3 days a week) 12 – 15 reps x 4 - 5 sets at moderate weight (40%-60% of one rep max) Two minute recovery
Weekender: (3 days a week) 12 – 15 reps x 3 - 4 sets at light to moderate weight (30%-50% of one rep max) Two minute recovery




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